The Ashden India Collective is already becoming a force for change in India. The Times of India recently reported that the Indian government has asked the group to contribute to the country’s policy for a rural electrification programme, particularly the scaling up of solar energy in off-grid rural areas.
The head of the Ashden India Collective, SP Gon Chaudhuri commented that “There is no proper law now on renewable energy. Neither is there clarity on how much subsidy the government will grant or regulations on a solar energy programme… There is a need for a proper framework to execute the rural electrification programme.” The nation-wide solar energy programme aims to generate 20,000 MW of solar power 2022.
Over 15 of our Indian winners set up the Ashden India Collective (AIC) 18 months ago, aiming to accelerate access to renewable energy in the country by influencing national policies. They have now completed three round-tables, funded in partnership with DfID (through UKAID), titled ‘Scaling up of Off-grid Renewables’, to discuss a set of key issues and recommendations with policy makers.
The Minister of New and Renewable Energy, Dr Farooq Abdullah, together with the Joint Secretary, Mr. Tarun Kapoor, attended the final session to hear the Collective’s policy recommendations. The Minister’s interest in the solutions presented led to a last minute request for the Collective to speak to a conference of state representatives from across the thirty Indian states in the afternoon.
Highlights of the discussions:
- Better incentives are needed to secure more investment in off-grid renewable energy. India faces the most acute challenge in electricity access in the world with more than 300 million people without access to electricity.
- The biggest challenge for the fledgling market in cleaner, more efficient energy products is the lack of a policy and regulatory framework which would enable industry to fully exploit the economic potential of decentralised clean energy systems.
- One solution is to establish a feed-in tariff that could de-risk current investments in decentralised systems. Many of the existing off-grid systems face the danger of becoming defunct as the central grid expands, despite its often unreliable supply (blackouts and brown outs can be commonplace with grid electricity) as consumers prefer its modern image. A feed-in tariff would secure the financial viability of a decentralised system regardless of this extension in future years.
The Collective is set to make an impact in the direction of the renewables sector in India. Gon Chaudhuri commented on its standard:
“There is no other expert voice of practitioners that can match the Ashden India Collective on decentralised renewables in India. This is why the government values our voice.”
Sarah Butler-Sloss, Ashden Founder Director attended the event in India and emphasised the potential of the group:
“It has been exciting to see such a gathering of influential practitioners in one place. We look forward to seeing the Collective continue to grow and expand. Through working with the MNRE we hope to see through these recommendations and make them a reality.”
A full policy document with the Ashden Indian Collective’s recommendations will be drafted from these meetings and circulated to relevant policymakers in at the start of next year, so look out for another blog on this.